Nutter puts senior aide atop RDA

Posted: June 06, 2008

Mayor Nutter yesterday appointed one of his top Cabinet members, senior adviser Terry Gillen, to head the Redevelopment Authority.

He also placed himself on the board of the RDA, which works to revive blighted areas.

Nutter's announcement came days after city officials said accounting problems at the RDA may have contributed to a multimillion funding gap for property acquisitions that were part of former Mayor Street's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative.

Last week, the city said that anti-blight program NTI may be up to $30 million short for planned property acquisitions.

Gillen, who will retain her role as senior adviser and Cabinet member, said Nutter asked her to take over as executive director of the RDA after he learned of the NTI situation. She replaces Michael Koonce.

"I think the immediate challenge is just to get a sense of what the factual situation is," Gillen said.

Her salary - $155,000 - won't change. She said she will spend most of her time at the RDA, but still will work on some of the economic issues she has been handling, like the city's two pending casinos and home foreclosures.

Gillen said Nutter wanted to be on the board to show how important the RDA is to his economic agenda.

"Mayors put themselves on boards when they want to send a message that they're taking something seriously," she said.

Former Mayor Street appointed himself to the Philadelphia Housing Authority board in 2004. He still serves as board chairman.

Nutter also appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Wendell Pritchett and Jennifer Rodriguez, of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, a group advocating for the Hispanic community, to the RDA board.

Union leader John Dougherty, who had served as board chairman for eight years, stepped down in April. *

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